Experts point to the South China tiger as the rarest cat in the world but I’d drown every last one of them if it meant I got to see the baddest feline in all the land win another Major. My hopes have been rekindled too with news that Tiger Woods is back prowling the fairways that at one time he ruled.
For a while there I thought he’d never return, a spine on him like a spiral staircase threatening not just his livelihood, but his quality of life through his impending retirement. You’d miss him though, a crevasse of charisma left waiting to be plugged in his absence. No better man than Woods to fill a hole in his day, and with none of the pretenders stepping up to the plate, thankfully the apex predator has obliged once more.
He was teasing us with swing updates for weeks before the announcement, even my own Mother weighing in on the complexities of his transition. Then appeared the video of the slow motion stinger, a stock shot synonymous with Woods’ legend in the game. “Could we not find someone to pick up his tees?” Her response to watching the club twirl like a finely tuned propeller, Mam wanting to ease the strain on a back more precious than the Prince of Dubai’s $4.5 million camel.
Accompanying the excitement of his return to action at this month’s Hero World Golf challenge, the likes of Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose have urged caution in what we can expect from a fit-again Tiger. Granted it’s been a long absence but this is a guy who won the US Open in 2000 by 15 shots. He won the 2008 US Open with a broken leg. He went around Pebble Beach in 53 strokes in the… actually that was me on the PlayStation. But you see, that’s the influence of a true sporting icon. Woods transcends reality!
And he’s not playing down his chances either, far from it. Tiger’s one gripe with the game since dusting off the cobwebs on his swoosh – his balls have been going too far. Not this again I hear you squirm. But yes, another PGA Tour player has spoken out about the need to roll back the technology in the golf ball.
“I can’t believe how far I’m hitting the golf ball,” Woods said to women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma on her podcast. “I’m back to hitting it my full numbers and not really trying to do that.”
“I just think it’s going too far, because we’re having to build golf courses, if they want to have a championship venue, they’ve got to be 7,400 to 7,800 yards long.”
“And if the game keeps progressing the way it is with technology, I think the 8,000-yard golf course is not too far away.”
I’d like to think Tiger’s now mature enough not to go chasing his tail when it comes to distance. He’s been playing practice rounds with Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas of late and like a former rally driver dropping his kids to school in a Yaris, he has to accept that he’ll inevitably be overtaken somewhere along the journey.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat but there’s even fewer methods to beat Tiger at his best. Who cares if I’m jumping the gun? Watch out Jack Nicklaus – Here’s Tigey!